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111 Days In The Sierra

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111 Days In The Sierra

Postby Bluewater » Tue May 14, 2013 10:49 pm

Thanks for posting the latest installment from your trip last summer. I usually read each week along with the corresponding photo set on Flickr. I have been referring to your reports and photos while planning for the next section of the SHR this summer. I realize it must take a lot of time and effort to put together each part. It is much appreciated! If you eventually got all of them into a book format it would be a valuable resource (and an entertaining read).



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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed May 15, 2013 12:36 pm

RoguePhotonic wrote:Well at least some people enjoy it. It's a hell of allot of work to write it all out and then it takes hours to even post a week adding those photo links.


I think at 2969 views, more than some people are enjoying it :nod: , and even more will as we enter into the peak BP season. I think you reports are a valuable resource. I would suggest that all your reports be archived somewhere on the forum for reference. Your are close to having done every significant hike in the sierra and then some. Having done a good number of TRs myself, I sympathize with how much work it is to do.

The Devils Bathtub is a nice lake to visit, and I have still yet to visit Margaret Lakes. And all of those lakes around Peter Panda are outstanding too, and I would love to go back.

Next week I take my noob backpacker friend on the Vernon Lake Loop, so see y'all out there!
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby millertime » Thu May 16, 2013 8:42 am

Love your TR's rogue! The way you write engages people in a way where they feel like they are there experiencing things in your shoes. You describe things in a very detailed way which most of the time is boring but the way that you mix emotion into it really grabs the reader as it appeals to their's. Not to mention that you aren't trying to create an image of someone who doesn't make mistakes, its the real you, and people like that because they can relate to it. I'd have to second the idea of archiving your TR's. I can still remember some specific details from of your trip reports from 2010 and 11, and I haven't looked at those since they were originally posted. I would love to be able to tell story's in that manner! Keep it up.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu May 16, 2013 8:56 am

Belated thanks for this installment--really good stuff.

I headed out on my Sphinx Crest loop the day after you ran into all that smoke, and they had closed the trail between Paradise Valley and the JMT because of that fire. Kind of a drag for all the people who had planned to do the Rae Lakes Loop.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:10 pm

I know this is certainly a long time coming but people have been bugging me to actually resume these things.

WEEK 8

MAP

As I left Marion Lake I took the same path I had taken the year before. Up to the two small tarns and over a small saddle and then between the two lower lakes of Lake Basin. Climbing up the hill and nearing the small lake on it I ran into two guys making their way up. We chatted for a bit and started hiking together from here. This year there wasn't much snow to be crossed which meant a whole lot more talus hoping to the bottom. When we reached the shore line we began out around the South Western shore. When we reached a wall with what to me was an easy class 3 move one of the guys said he was not going to do it. He promised his wife he wouldn't! So ultimately he resorted to wading through the lake. When we were close to the outlet we stopped and ate lunch for quite a long time. I was supposed to be crossing what I call Observation Peak Pass today but after so much time I decided to stay and camp with the guys here at Dumbbell Lakes. We located a site on the Northern shore and I was amazed to see an illegal fire pit here considering there was hardly a stick to burn.

The next morning we just couldn't break away from chatting. By the time we finally got moving it was about 2PM. These two were heading down into Cartridge Creek from here. I would later learn that one of them had a nasty fall and punctured a 1x2 inch hole in his ankle all the way to the bone. It would then take him 3 days to get out of the wild.

After all the lagging it would required me to cut out the extra day I had planned for climbing Mt. Sill. I dropped down to the lower basin and made my way over to the longer lake here that had a nice NE shore line. Since I had no real information on this saddle I was going on visual navigation only. I made my way towards a cut in the rock lined with some willows. Getting there it was mostly easy yet the slope also had some Rose bushes to climb through which are always the worst. After one more difficult pitch the slope levels out by a small tarn lake. From here it was an easy stable talus climb to the top. I had never planned to climb Observation Peak but since I was here I figured why not.

I began scrambling up the West slope which had plenty of class 3 rocks to get over but mostly proved to be easy. In about 30 minutes I was on top. The view was certainly worth the climb and I took note of a few names in the register I recognized. Once I had soaked up all the views I made my way back to my pack and started down this unknown pass to me. It started as a mess of smaller loose rock but quickly turned to larger slabs of multi colored rock. Most of the way was really easy and when nearing the lake I began down a grass ramp to my left and it ended at some sketchy cliff sides. I knew there was a nice grass hill side the other way but I felt too lazy to walk the small distance back up the hill so I began looking at the cliffs more and decided I can do this. Big mistake! What started as a vertical class 3 climb quickly put me onto class 5 slabs. I had to retreat from a couple different faces I tried to cross and then to my dismay my water bottle fell out and went crashing down and off into the unknown. Damn it! I yelled! WTF am I doing out here on this damn cliff face when a nice grass ramp is right over there!!! It's right there!!! RaaRRww. Finally I had to resort to lowering my pack down by rope. When it came to a rest I paused for a minute to make sure it was stable. Yep it's good... As soon as I threw the rope down the pack tumbled over violently smashing down another 10 feet. I was a tea kettle starting to whistle! I got onto the slab slope that had no hand or foot holds of any kind and maintained a friction climb as long as possible before I could only slip and fall to the bottom. I retrieved my pack which was damaged slightly but my bear barrel was okay. After some searching I was able to locate my bottle and finish the descent to the lake. This was a beautiful area and a glacier smoothed slope across the lake really caught my eye. I had never really seen anything like it before. I took note of a very large pile of bear scat and found a wonderful smooth rock to lay out on for the night.

When I awoke I noticed the lake was putting on a nice reflection shot so I grabbed my camera and took a photo while still in my sleeping bag. One of the things I noticed about this lake was how completely pristine it was. Not a single sign of humans could be found around the area. Not even a balloon! I made my way around the Western shore until a small hump went into a tarn. I was told that this was a better way to get around to the outlet but this little tarn proved to be a bit difficult to get around since both sides of it had either micro cliffs or smooth granite slabs. Once I had gotten around it I began down the hill and quickly realized I was going the wrong way and hooked hard right up over a hill and down to the outlet area. From here it was pretty easy to move North over to the next small lake which was full of water fleas. Near this area I dropped my pack and started off to climb Peak 11,255. My driving force on this peak had been solely based on it's location on the map. It looks like it might be a great view point. The first challenge was moving North up a small hill to what I now call Adventurer Pass.

I started down the unstable talus to a point where I could cross along the slopes to my left. Unfortunately these slopes were very loose and difficult to travel. As soon as I could I began making my way up but the slope was so steep it was very difficult. I began making my way through a mess of mixed terrain with lots of small cliffs. I approached a V notch in a vertical wall and thought it looked like a 5.11+ but that I might be able to get up it. I began up but the holds were only the size of my finger tips at best and they were not squared off but smooth bumps facing downward. I only made it about 6 feet off the ground and decided this was no good so I retreated back to find another way.

After large talus fields, incredibly steep hill sides and more unstable rock I rounded a bend and was on a more casual hill side mostly covered in granite slabs. From here it was a much easier hike until I finally reached the base of the peak. I primarily stayed on it's Northern ridge as I zig zagged through sparse trees and loose sandy slopes.

When I reached the summit I was surprised to see a cloud of insects flying around on top. They looked like little wasps but they did not sting as I quickly found them climbing all over me. There was a strange smell coming out of a rock that they were most heavily concentrated around. There was a small cairn on top but no register. I left a small pill bottle with some paper in it but I had nothing to put into it to write with. Although the peak offered wonderful views it was not quite as good as I thought the view up Leconte Canyon might be. When it was time to go I began down the East slope this time and back tracked to the nasty steep slopes near Adventurer Pass. This time around I really wanted to avoid the loose steep slopes so I decided to try and stay higher up and make my way as close to the pass as I could get. This still proved to be very difficult and I finally ended up along a mess of cliffs. I picked a vertical land slide chute that was filled with loose dirt from recent slides. This had the effect of blasting me in the face with dust as I tried to make my way. The slopes around me looked like they could go at any moment but without incident I was down and went back to my pack. I sat and ate lunch as the weather began turning on me. I hadn't even finished eating before rain began to fall and thunder sounded right over my head. Luckily the main wave of the storm did not stay over me for long and moved on staying away from me for the rest of the day.

I began up the outlet to the East coming from an unnamed lake. One section involved some class 3 talus work as the rain came and went. The lake itself was a nice isolated spot that was humbling. The lake had a beautiful blue in it's depths. I went around the Northern shore and began straight up when I was about half way across the lake. When I topped out The views displayed all the fury of the storm raging in locations all around. I looked up at Mt. Shakespeare and knew I could not make the climb in this weather.

My next goal was figuring out how to get to the lake below. A large chute was leading down to it that looked doable but I could see from up here that the Western shore of the lake could not be crossed and since I could not see the Eastern shore I did not want to take the risk of climbing all the way down and not having a way around so I moved NE along a mass of granite shelves. Navigating this was not the easiest task but I found my way and finally picked up the slopes that would take me down to the shore line.

While making my way down I stepped on a rock with a bit of dead black moss on it. My foot slipped out from under me and in a unison moment I went falling to the ground while bellowing no! as my trekking pole went flying over the cliff side. After recovering I climbed down the cliffs to try and find my trekking pole. I could only see the tip of it stuck on a rock outcrop above so I had to drop my pack and climb up for it. When all was technically well again I began making my way down but doing so was difficult among all these small cliffs. Too many of the surfaces were wet with black moss on it making for dangerous trekking.

While climbing down this difficult rock face my trekking poles were causing problems. I could tell a patch of the slope below was mud so I went to stab my trekking pole into the mud and it hit a rock and bounced my hand into the rock face cutting it up some. Finally after the long battle I was down at the shore line. Looking at the lake it turns out the Eastern shore was also impassable so I made the right choice to avoid the chute.

I made my way to the outlet and then hooked hard right onto the slopes and began moving NE on mixed terrain towards a small saddle. Looking back at Peak 11,255 the slopes looked steep and nasty from this distance. Once I had crossed the small saddle it was time for the long tedious slog to the bottom. A seemingly endless mess of my least favorite type of terrain. After I passed all that mess I then had to push through small pine trees that were soaking wet leaving me wet also. Then the last bit of fun was moving through a mix of micro cliffs in a burn zone littered with downed trees. Finally I reached Palisade Creek and made the ford and pushed on looking for a camp. After a few poor choices I found a decent enough place and got set up just as the last of the useable light faded. It was perhaps the only time I can recall doing laundry in the dark.

The next morning I had not been on the trail long before it opened up and began to pour! It was around 9am which was pretty early for such a display. This made climbing the Golden Stair Case a bit more difficult since wearing a rain shell was so hot. By the time I had reached the top and was ready to begin up Cirque Pass the rain had broken long enough for me to eat an early lunch and get moving again.

There was nothing difficult about climbing Cirque. It's just a slight maze of zig zaggin along the terrain finding the easiest way to go. The rain continued to come and go offering stormy views of the Palisade Lakes. Once I had topped out I began down the slope a bit too directly. The proper way is to move East a bit before dropping down although I didn't know it at the time. This led to a few difficult class 3 shelves to down climb but before long I was at Lake 11,676 From up high I had seen nice DG pools near the outlet where I got set up, enjoyed the views and hid from the rain the rest of the night.

Come morning my next goal was Potluck Pass. What I read had told me to go to the left up some sandy slopes. These looked horrible to me. I did not know at the time that there was a nice use trail leading up them. Instead a small grass ramp was going up the middle of the pass and I decided to take that instead. There was only on difficult section class 3-4 but I made the top easily enough.

From here it's smooth terrain to the Barrett Lakes where I took lunch and then hiked around to the West side of the lake to get a view across at North Palisade. Moving on I began up Thunderbolt Pass which once again was easy enough. Grass ramps to granite ramps with some talus hoping but not much. The North side is a different story. First you are confronted with some car sized boulders which can be difficult to get through but then the rest of the medium to small talus is quite stable and an easy stroll. Then down a mix of shelves and you find yourself at the upper lake in Dusy Basin.

After another night sleeping on a rock I got up in the brisk morning air much earlier than normal Since the prospect of food was calling me. I made the trek over Bishop Pass and down to Parchers where I picked up 2 cans of chili 8 ounces of cheese, 2 bags of chips and two sodas and hiked down to Willow Campground where I managed to get a site since it was still so early. I ate all my food leaving me in a food coma. That night I enjoyed good company with other hikers who bought me dinner at Bishop Creek lodge. I spent the next day doing my typical layover routines ending week 8 and preparing to head into even rougher cross country.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:11 pm

Probably better sooner than later on this 2012 report because I am going off memory on this one. In 2013 and 2014 I have audio logs of every day.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:15 pm

Great stuff Rogue/Chris. I have been in and around that area and wondered about what I couldn't really see with Google Earth and maps. The ground view pictures of remote locations are great. Your Flicker pages are useful for the other places you have been to that I want to see, or not. Some places I am sorry I missed, others, better you than me. Like that groin-shriveling view from the top of Clyde Minaret: Pass.
Keep up the good work! :)
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby tomba » Sat Feb 21, 2015 12:44 pm

Very nice. Looking forward to remaining weeks.
-- Found trash? Please pack it out. Thank you.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:37 pm

Yeah I need to get on it. I already wrote the next week I just need to edit and post.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:00 pm

Week 9

MAP

Every time I leave Parchers I have a bad habit of eating way too much due to their all you can eat buffet breakfast and then socializing with people inside that leaves me hitting the road quite late feeling so full I wish I hadn't ate so much. So by about 10PM I literally hit the road and began walking the mile or so to the trail head. Like any resupply of 14 days the pack weighed me down as I began back in for a section of rugged cross country. The Bishop Pass trail is well graded and the 7 miles to the top of the pass is generally easy and filled with beautiful views. Once over though the miles begin to set in as the pounding down hill through Dusy Basin always leaves me extremely worn out. My goal had been to reach the junction at the Muir Trail but by the time I dropped to the camp below the 10,000 fire line sign I had had enough and set up camp.

Resuming the next day my route took me through the Ranger stations location. I knew George Durkee was supposed to be there and I had wanted to meet him. When I reached the junction there was a prominent sign detailing that the new cabin was being built and not to bother them unless it's an emergency that was under lined 3 times. I thought about giving George crap about getting too old to deal with all these JMT tourists asking the same questions for 30 years but I decided to pass on by the cabin with just a wave. I thought maybe they wondered where the hell I was going as I took one of their use trails to a place that clearly one of them camps out. Luckily this lead me right to a downed tree that took me across the Middle Fork.

The initial hill side was extremely steep and fatiguing yet was a clear open forest. This generally continued until the grade began to lessen and I made my way up the creek to a flat meadow area . I took a break and enjoyed the views of the triple drainage coming down marked by two water falls. I began up into the drainage that was fairly straight forward until you get into the steeper narrows of the chute. The water levels were low so I did not get wet but I took note that if this route was taken early season you likely would be fighting your way up water falls. As I climbed my final pitch up a cliff side and reached the top I suddenly became aware that I was surfing! The rock I had climbed on was going over the cliff with me on it! I quickly leaped off as it went crashing over the edge and roaring down the chute below.

From here it was mostly smooth sailing as you talus hop along to the smooth slabs heading up to Hester Lake. When I reached it I admired the beautiful blue water in what can mostly be considered a rather dull and desolate lake . Other than the spectacular views looking back at the Palisades that is!

I began looking for evidence of the plane but could find nothing at the moment other than a human crafted piece of wood near the outlet and what looked like battered clothing in the water. A bit of an ominous reminder of people dying here.

The lake offers little camping but I found a nice rock to lay out on and staked my claim for the next two nights.

Come morning I began moving along the NE shore on my way towards Langille Peak. I quickly began seeing pieces of aluminum scattered along the shore line. Mostly small pieces with some glass, wiring, netting and general small pieces scattered around the area. A year later I would learn there is a register at this crash site but I never located it.

Once I was satisfied here I began angling towards the low saddle on the West ridge of Langille. Although a bit tedious at times it was fairly easy to reach the ridge line. From here it was a different matter though. Once I had crossed the hump on the ridge it turned into a rather technical class 3 traverse that slowed me down quite a bit but in a reasonable time frame I reached the summit . An old rusty can held a register left from a Leconte Ranger. I checked the entries to find one a month old and then wait what!? After not being signed for a month someone had signed it today! A single person noting they climbed the East face. So they came up signed it and left before I made it up. I spent some time soaking up the awesome views and began making a better route back. I dropped down the SW face on mixed talus and sand and hooked back to camp.

Leaving Hester I went to the lake just South and began making my way through the large talus field between lakes. While out in the middle of a huge mess of talus I found a random cairn. The type of cairn the just makes me wonder since it marks absolutely nothing other than another person has passed by this exact spot.

I made decent time passing the rugged yet scenic lake below what I call Ladder Pass. The North side of the pass itself proved very easy aside from a few loose sections of rock. I slowly made my way down the South side until I reached a more level section below. From here your presented with two route options. Head straight towards the lake or go right and follow down the drainage. I decided on the straight shot. All through this option I saw cairns marking all sorts of needless paths.

Finally I made my way down the last talus filled slope into the trees on the North shore . I took lunch and scouted camp sites without luck. I passed around to the South shore taking note of the fact that this lake was beautiful from all shore lines. On the South side was a number of camp sites but they did not appeal to me. I wanted to have a view perhaps after being spoiled of my view from camp at Hester Lake. So I climbed out on a large outcrop over looking the lake and found a mostly flat rock to just lay out on. It was so early I seriously thought about just climbing the Citadel today but I never mind just laying around camp soaking in all the beauty so instead I decided to go for a dip. I went down to the shore and began to strip when suddenly I heard voices. I look up to see two people coming down the hillside towards the lake. What? Really!? I thought. I never thought I'd see anyone up here but here they came. When they reached camp I went and said hello. One of them was Elizabeth Wenk author of a JMT guide book and a completer of the SPS list so I had plenty to talk to her about. The two of them set off to climb the Citadel as I went for my swim.

The next morning I made my climb up the Citadel which proved extremely easy with some fun class 3 just before the summit. It had taken me about an hour and a half so I just sat on top and enjoyed the views for awhile. On my way back to camp I found the typical Sierra balloon .

Leaving Ladder Lake I decided to take the drainage route which was easier than the way I had taken. In fairly decent time I climbed my way back up Ladder Pass and rounded the shore of the lake below. I began up the slope I call Black Divide Crossing which in the beginning was easy enough on small to medium talus. The closer you get to the top the larger and more technical the rocks become. I was still sporting 9 days of food so my pack wasn't exactly light. After plenty of technical class 3 I topped out on the ridge offering great views and an extremely satisfied feeling of conquering a route that I had absolutely no information on. I was simply going on topo maps and visual confirmation. For all I knew I was the first to climb this ridge so I couldn't have been happier that I hadn't been shut down horribly. Dropping down the West side of this route is tedious at best. Rock too large to be scree and too small to me talus. Perfectly stable and unstable at the same time yet without issue I found myself at the bottom and then making the climb up the 3rd pass of the day which I call Ionian Pass. Luckily this time around it was class 1 to the top. Dropping down was just more tedious all the way to Lake 11,828 .

Getting there I found some sites that were not good enough to effectively set up my tent. To my despair the weather had begun to turn and the rain began to fall. I had tried and failed to set up my tent free standing. I then decided to climb in and just lay in the downed tent but it did not take long before I decided this was not going to work so I kept messing with it until I got a half assed tent set up long enough to weather the storm and then I broke it back down and slept on top of it.

Setting out for Charybdis I really had no information on climbing it other than to take the North ridge to the summit. This starting simple enough on the easy slopes . I just kept climbing the North ridge looking up at what I thought was the summit.

When I got to the top of this scramble I certainly was not on the summit yet. A high point of rock had to be passed and I decided to go left. Doing this involved a rather strange move with allot of exposure. When I had passed this obstacle I kind of laughed that a cairn was marking to take the other way. Next I had to round another high point on the ridge. This time I went right onto some tiny ledges. These went left then right as I had to make use of hand holds that were far above my head and shimmy inverted a bit with allot of exposure below me. Once beyond this I found myself at a cliff face that dropped down about 10 feet. At first I could not find a way down and knew that I had taken the wrong way in general to maintain the class 3 rating of this climb. I climbed out onto the face of this wall and began down what I can only describe as the most difficult down climb I had ever done. From here it was an easy class 3 climb to the top .

The summit itself was an aggressive mess of rocks that offered no comfortable place to sit. The views all around were wonderful to see. It was so early I had nothing better to do for awhile then sit and enjoy the view.

I decided to hike to the Eastern most bit of the summit in order to get an unobstructed shot looking East. When I got there my camera while still in it's padded case slipped from my hand and smashed down on a rock. When I took the camera out it had impacted directly on the corner of the LCD screen and broke it completely. I could see nothing more than colored lines! This was horrible to say the least since I could no longer see any data when taking a picture or even knowing if they were being taken at all. I switched to auto mode and made use of the horrible eye glass piece.

Leaving the summit I made my way off the NE face and then cut across to the North ridge which although had plenty of class 3 remained as such.

Back at camp I sat and felt such despair at this turn of events of breaking my camera. Taking pictures out here was so important to me and things had been going so well in this rugged section. The last thing I wanted to do was head out but it had to be done. I would re plan the rest of this section and tomorrow I will begin making my way out to Florence Lake to deal with this problem.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby edhyatt » Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:41 am

I'm pretty new to this community - but it is informative and captivating reports such as this that really do it for me.
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Re: 111 Days In The Sierra

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:19 am

Chris, this was one of your most interesting adventures (among many). I had already looked it over (several times) in your Flickr pages because of my long desire to visit Ladder Lake. One of your best pictures on this trip in my opinion was this one of lake 11,654:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/roguephot ... 678193188/
It really captures the desolate beauty of the back-country.
It was fun to follow your trip with the pictures and a topo map.

So, after breaking your camera, you had to take pictures the "old-school" way. :wink: If my camera broke, I would feel the same way. Without pictures, what is the point? I certainly cannot rely on my memory. It's why I take pictures: to back up my memory.

In your search for a camp at Ladder Lake, did you visit the tree area on the SE side of the lake, which is supposed to have a decent camp?

Others on this forum have been in this area. It would be interesting to hear from them about this trip. :nod:

Great job! Thanks!
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